Connecticut is home to some of the most extensive private art collections in the country. Paintings can be worth thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars. Art is also a great investment that you can see appreciate over time.
So, what happens to the collection during a divorce?
What is “equitable distribution”?
The first thing to note is that Connecticut is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to marital property. Meaning it is up to the court to decide how the marital property will be divided.
Notice we said marital property. There is marital property and separate property. This is important to know because any property acquired before the marriage, like family inheritance, for example, would be considered separate property.
That means if the art collection was part of an inheritance that you acquired before the marriage, it will automatically be yours unless you use its value as leverage to maintain an ownership stake in some marital property.
For example, you could give the art collection to your ex in exchange for keeping the entire house, retirement account contributions, etc.
Aside from determining what art pieces are marital property and which are separate, you will need to complete a full inventory and provide dated receipts.
Second, and most importantly, hire an appraiser. If you need to hire two appraisers, each representing each side in the divorce, so be it. No matter what you will need to know the value of each piece.
If the appraisers have two different conclusions on the value of a piece, split the difference.
Bottom line is, you will want to come to some sort of agreement on how the art collection will be divided because if it is left up to the court, they will simply liquidate the collection, and have you split the proceeds which can lead to a significant tax bill.
Art collections are a valued part of the household, both financially and sentimentally. That being said it is wide to get all the legal help that you need when dividing property during a divorce.